The examples of bad user experience are many - The USB plug (always lucky on the third try), the experience of making a connecting flight at many airports, or the exhaust port on the Death Star in Star Wars. These experiences constantly remind us how bad design can cause user frustration.
We also know classical experiences such as the Swiss Army Knife, the humble Google home page, or the Disneyland visitor experience. All of these are examples of the way strong design can be at the heart of both disruptive and sustained commercial success in physical, service, and digital settings.
Despite the obvious commercial benefits of designing great products and services, consistently realizing this goal is notoriously hard—and getting harder. Only the very best user experiences now stand out from the crowd, given the rapid rise in consumer expectations driven by the likes of Amazon; instant access to global information and reviews; and the blurring of lines between hardware, software, and services. Companies need stronger design capabilities than ever before.
So, what is user experience worth?
According to a research report by McKinsey, a strong correlation exists between experience driven business and its revenue performance. These companies increased their revenues and total returns to shareholders (TRS) substantially faster than their industry counterparts did over a five-year period—32 percentage points higher revenue growth and 56 percentage points higher TRS growth for the period as a whole.
In short, the potential for experience-driven growth is enormous in both product and service-based sectors. The good news is that there are more opportunities than ever to pursue user-centric, analytically informed design today. Consumers can feed opinions back to companies (and to each other) in real time, allowing UX to be measured by consumers themselves—whether or not companies want to listen.
Three dimensions to deliver great experiences.
1. CONSCIOUS INTENT - An imperative
First and foremost, business leaders should realize that user experience is one of the top influential factors in business performance. This realization inherently instates conscious intent among business leaders to tie user experience metrics with business goals, in other words they realize how superior user experiences can result in increased revenues. Through conscious intent business leaders can nurture a culture of enhancing user experience by paying attention to what the consumer expects and being aware of the market segment and competition.
2. CONTINUOUS INSIGHTS - A key driver
Delivering great experience is not a one-time activity because consumer expectation and perception of your brand evolves over time. The key is for business leaders to understand this perspective and establish channels for collecting continuous insights from different users of the ecosystem and refine the experience continuously. Surprisingly, even today where there is abundance of online tools and data-driven consumer feedback mechanisms, many businesses have not realized the significance of measuring consumer insights due to which they miss out on retaining consumer loyalty.
In addition to consumer insights, it is seen best results come from constantly blending user research (quantitative and qualitative) with reports from the market-analytics group on the actions of competitors, patent scans to monitor emerging technologies, business concerns flagged by key internal stakeholders, and the like.
3. CREATIVE INNOVATION - A critical success criteria
While continuous innovation is a key business imperative, creative innovation with conscious intent and continuous insights is the mantra for success. Creative innovation in user experience is about bringing fresh perspectives in user interactions that can inspire internal teams and delight consumers. Creative innovation is also about identifying and applying high impact design mechanisms in a reasonable timeframe in conjunction with the desired consumer experience.
We realize that many companies apply these principles in their design practices. However, excellence across all three dimensions, which is required to reach the level of user experience maturity, is relatively rare. Nevertheless, companies can take some powerful first steps to instil a culture of developing conscious intent, acquiring continuous insights and creatively innovate. This obviously requires a top down approach with a strong push for cultural change emanating from the higher management flowing to the bottom.
Companies that enforce these three principles boost their odds of becoming more effective organizations that consistently design great products and services. For companies that make it, the prizes are as rich as increasing their revenue growth manifold and returns over those of their industry counterparts.
“User experience is more than a feeling: it is a priority for growth and long-term performance."